Former President George W. Bush momentarily lost his composure while describing the late President George H.W. Bush as the “best father a son or daughter can have,” at the National Cathedral in Washington on Wednesday.
Bush began his fitting remarks by saying, “I once heard it said of man that the idea is to die young, as late as possible.”
By that measure, the 41st president had achieved his mark when he died at the age of 94 late last week, his oldest son argued.
Bush recounted that his father, born in 1924, still enjoyed his favorite past time of motorboating off the coast of Kennebunkport, Maine, at full throttle, at the age of 85.
“At age 90, George H. W. Bush parachuted out of an aircraft and landed on the grounds of St. Ann’s by the sea in Kennebunkport, Maine, the church where his mom was married and where he worshipped often,” Bush said.
“Mother liked to say he chose the location just in case the chute didn’t open.”
Even as his health was failing, the elder Bush “took great delight when his closest pal, James A. Baker, smuggled a bottle of Grey Goose vodka into his hospital room. Apparently, it paired well with the steak Baker had delivered from Morton’s,” his son said.
— POLITICO (@politico) December 5, 2018
Bush went on to say that his father’s zest for life likely sprang from his close calls with death, including during World War II when the Navy plane he was piloting was shot down by the Japanese over the Pacific Ocean. The other crew members aboard the plane died.
“He was alone in the Pacific on a life raft, praying that his rescuers would find him before the enemy did,” Bush said. “God answered those prayers. It turned out he had other plans for George H.W. Bush.
“For Dad’s part, I think those brushes with death made him cherish the gift of life. And he vowed to live every day to the fullest.”
George W. Bush on the times his father, George H.W. Bush, nearly died in his youth: “Those brushes with death made him cherish the gift of life and he vowed to live every day to the fullest. Dad was always busy, a man in constant motion, but never too busy to share his love” pic.twitter.com/W1LknvGZpZ
— CBS News (@CBSNews) December 5, 2018
Bush drew his remarks to a close saying he took comfort in knowing his dad was now reunited with his mother, Barbara, who passed in June, and his sister, who died at the age of three in 1953 from leukemia.
“So, through our tears, let us know the blessings of knowing and loving you, a great and noble man, the best father a son or daughter can have,” said the 43rd president, who at that point broke down and took a brief moment to compose himself.
President George W. Bush: “We’re going to miss you. Your decency, sincerity, and kind soul will stay with us forever. So, through our tears let us know the blessings of knowing and loving you. A great and noble man. The best father a son or daughter could have…” #Bush41 pic.twitter.com/WDGO4kk5BQ
— CSPAN (@cspan) December 5, 2018
Bush continued, “And in our grief, let us smile knowing that Dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom’s hand again.”
As he returned to his seat, the 43rd president laid his hand on his father’s coffin.
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